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1<EŁ                                              FLORA   INDICA.
alluded to this subject in the third chapter of this Essay
(p. 10), as one intimately connected with geological change,
and as involving questions of the antiquity of species and of
continents, which, as regards the Flora of India, we have no
materials for discussing. It would be very easy to assume a
fow premises, and to suppose elevations and depressions of the
islands, oceans, plains, and mountains of India, that would
afford each area marked by a peculiar vegetation the means
of having derived its species, or its botanical features, from
another now isolated or distant region; and to extirpate
species from areas where it would, for the theory's sake, be
convenient to do wo. It would also be easy to suppose cli-
matic and other changes that would derange the whoh> exist-
ing order of vegetation, and to adapt the little we know of
the Geology of India to support such movements; but we con-
sider that all such speculations arc unsafe and inexpedient in
our present incomplete knowledge of any one branch of In-
dian science; they should be based primarily on geological
data, and mainly on palicontological evidence that has been
thoroughly sifted, should be well supported by zoological fact?;,
and only extended to botany after the species of plants inha-
biting the whole area shall have been approximately deter-
mined. It nntst not be supposed that, in declining to cuter
upon this subject, we are actuated by a spirit hostile to
speculative reasoning; on the contrary, were we fully ac-
quainted with the sgccics and distribution of Indian plants,
we would willingly throw out such suggestions as we think
an analysis of them wotxld legitimately warrant our advan-
cing, and wait the result of zoological and palaxmtologica!
evidence, with the hope, on the one hand, of establishing the
truth of our deductions, and, on the other, in the belief, that
if proved in the wrong, we should at nny rat<j have erred
within reasonable limits. But at this time in particular,
when the labour of comparing aud dbterminiug plants, and
accumulating exact data, is shunned by the majority of bota-
nists ; when toose theories on geographical distribution, and on